Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
Signed P.Ruiz Picasso and dated 96 in the bottom left-hand corner
Barcelona, 1896
Pastel on paper
49.8 x 39 cm
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.016

The Work

In 1896, Picasso produced many portraits of members of his family, with his father, mother and sister becoming regular models. One of his most beautiful portraits is the one dedicated to his mother, María Picasso López, who he was always close to. It would not be long before he adopted his mother’s surname, making it a unique signature on most of his works.

As with most of his youthful drawings, this one follows the currents of the era and aesthetic notions that would guide him throughout his years of academic teaching.

The portrait captures the moment where his mother, in profile, is resting half-asleep with her head lightly leaning forward and her eyes closed – creating a placid air. The good use of drawing techniques and correct use of colour, especially in the light reflections on the woman’s face and in the texture of the white blouse highlighted with icy white traces, make this portrait a standout work in the artist’s formative years.

In 1970, the year Picasso made his large donation to our Museum, the work was subjected to a difficult cleaning and restoration process. As well as the crumples in the paper, it was covered with many fungus stains which were removed after a slow meticulous job carried out with the utmost care, since the pastel dust was not set and could come away easily. The good restoration work meant a magnificent perfect portrait of the artist’s mother was recovered.

Other Portraits of the Mother

The Museum also houses some earlier pencil drawings of his mother’s face on paper produced in Corunna in 1894-1895 (MPB 111.496R, 111.497), other drawings from Malaga and Barcelona in 1895 (MPB 111.179, 111.186R), other drawings from Barcelona in 1895 (MPB 111.131, 111.143, 111.151R, 111.152, 111.153) and three watercolours (MPB 110.234, MPB 111.466, 111.472), as well as many sketches and jottings.

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother

With the inscription ‘my first attempt at watercolour’
Unsigned and undated. Barcelona, 1895-1896
Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 23.8 cm
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.234

Location

Room 1

Bibliography

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